New England churches struggle to fill pulpits UPDATED

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Trouble filling pulpits – Leaders stress need to reach out to domestic mission field

MANCHESTER, N.H. – More than a year ago, the West Keene church in southwestern New Hampshire advertised nationwide for a mature minister interested in a mission opportunity.

The 35-member congregation, about 40 miles west of Manchester, offered housing, utilities and a small stipend.

But only one man applied — and he turned down the job.

<ed.note>Note I left on Bobby Ross’s Facebook wall: Empty New England Pulpits Story — someone needs to do some research on how many folks can’t afford to consider the jobs due to crushing bible education debt; then consider studying Project MedSend’s model of providing student loan forgiveness for folks willing to do a specified “tour of duty”.

In addition to the wall note I would add: Further, books like Strapped and Generation Debt need to be considered. UPDATE: See this. CLOSE UPDATE Other stories in the Chronicle emphasized colleges closing in the Pacific NW; its time for Churches of Christ to put distance education in the first place of options rather than on insisting on relocation to a campus to get access to educational materials. These materials can do double duty for students in mission fields (like the NE) as global broadband builds out — especially in the form of wireless to smart phones. I should note also I truly appreciate the excellent reporting the Chronicle crew does! Tangent: Post on Alex Campbell as blogger by Greg Taylor over at the Disciples of Christ Historical Society site. Many other excellent resources available there ONLINE. </ed.note>

Identifying U.S-African Collaborations and Projects that Would Benefit from Expanded Bandwidth to Africa

The Internet Educational Equal Access
Foundation
(IEEAF), along with several partners, has received
a planning
grant
from the National Science
Foundation
to propose very high speed Internet extensions, on
the order of 10 Gbps, to connect the academic, research, health and
non-governmental organization (NGO) communities in African countries
to the rest of the world. Such connections would provide African
universities and medical centers connectivity equivalent to the best
available to comparable institutions in the United States. To win
the large grant that would allow the network connection to be implemented,
the team that won the NSF planning grant is seeking evidence of academic
collaboration, particularly in science and in health, between U.S.
and Africans in four countries-Ghana and Senegal most importantly,
but also Madagascar and Mozambique-to help the NSF understand, appreciate,
and value the impact of having these high speed connections in place.

The team is requesting information about:

  • Joint projects at your institution that involve collaboration with
    scientists, other researchers, medical personnel, and NGOs in any
    of these countries.
  • Joint projects with known individuals from or in these countries
    that would take place, but cannot currently because of inadequate
    bandwidth/communication between your institution and the African
    country.
  • Projects involving existing or former graduate students from any
    of these countries that are good candidates for joint work upon the
    graduate student’s returns to his or her country.
  • Potential projects, previously not conceptualized or implemented
    because of a lack of high-speed Internet connections to institutions
    and researchers in these countries.

Information should be sent via e-mail to africaprojects@internet2.edu

Proposed Rural Development Unified Grant Platform Comments Sought

SUMMARY: Rural Development, a mission area within the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, is proposing a unified grant platform for enhanced
delivery of eight existing Rural Development grant programs–Community
Facility; Distance Learning and Telemedicine; Economic Impact
Initiatives; Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement
Projects; Rural Cooperative Development; Tribal College; Value-Added
Producer; and Water and Waste Disposal Facilities. This proposed rule
would eliminate or revise the grant regulations for the eight existing
programs and consolidate them under a new, single regulation.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before
December 15, 2008. The comment period for the information collection
under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 continues through December
15, 2008.

Dave H. Crusoe, Public Learning Media Labs, On CodeKindness

We at the PLML have *just* finished building a technology called
CodeKindness, which resides at http://www.codekindness.org. It’s nonprofit, and designed to mobilize technology volunteers for
nonprofit organizations by managing the distance volunteering experience.

We’re already testing it (successful, so far!) and would love additional input into designing/shaping the technology. Please let me know if you’re interested!

Cheers,

–Dave

dave at plml.org

Cambridge, MA

Economic Development 2.0

August 2008, By Bill Trüb, businessfacilities.com

E-cities. Cyber communities. Broadband economies. Byte by byte, digital infrastructures are being built all around us, and visions of the future are becoming reality.

In our tech-hungry, forward-reaching business world, the days of dial-up Internet connections are tucked away in a file folder labeled "Outdated." The most progressive cities around the world are slinging webs of fiber optic wires throughout their communities, building networks of information highways, and growing their digital infrastructures. Fiber optic wire, made of pure, light-transmitting glass, is the Internet and telecommunication industry’s standard-bearer, allowing the speed and synchronicity necessary for many businesses to operate at top capacity. It is thinner, lighter, and cheaper than traditional copper wire, and has a higher capacity for passing digital information. Whether uploading and downloading data or administering conference calls with full audio and video capability, the need for quick and reliable broadband connectivity has become a paramount corporate concern-and fiber optic cables are the solution of choice.

Raising the Speed Limit

July/August 2008, by Alexei Smirnov, businesstn.com

Pulaski turns to its public utility to turn on the broadband tap

Jay Raney, proprietor of Media Graphic Design in Pulaski, is a
professional graphic designer who has been in business since 1999. But
until recently, his Internet bandwidth was stuck in 2004. Up until a
year ago, Raney had to settle for a DSL connection offered locally by
BellSouth successor AT&T and cable provider Charter Communications.
Because most of his clients are out-of-state, Raney was forced to slug
through sending and receiving high-resolution images at speeds inferior
to those enjoyed by teenagers in Hong Kong.

E-mail any rural community in America, and you’ll hear similar tales of
the lack of interest from telecom companies in providing
fiber-to-the-home Internet service. Sitting on hundreds of miles of
fiber-optic lines in urban areas, the big telecoms tend to consider
small communities insufficiently profitable propositions. Pulaski was
no exception.

"It’s been our experience in rural Tennessee that we don’t get the
top-notch technology until the private sector can make a profit on it,"
says Pulaski Mayor Dan Speer. "I don’t agree with that."
Speer, who has been mayor for 20 years, believes the city must have a
true broadband service to advance economically. And because for-profit
service providers weren’t stepping up to the plate, Pulaski took
matters into its own hands. Preliminary studies began in 2000, followed
by a 2002 city council resolution that encouraged the Pulaski Electric
System to go into the broadband business. After a $5 million investment
in infrastructure and deployment of fiber-optic cable across town, PES
Energize was launched last March.

ROWE, ROWE, ROWE Your GRID

<ed.note>I enjoy pelting John Larson and Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson of the "Work Sucks, How to Fix It" movement occasionally with my 4 cents (adjusting for inflation). This post is an edited version of a recent stream of consciousness email.

It occurs to me that there is a parallel IT movement to Results-Only Work Environment, cloud|grid computing.

While there is a bunch of hype about clouds and GRIDs now in the press, the reality that Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, etc. are pushing this strongly – and that programs like Berkeley’s Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) open source and volunteer distributed computing software have been adopted by the likes of IBM’s World Community Grid project indicates it’s a paradigm that is only going to grow. For example, I’m a WCG project volunteer – my screensaver time allows WCG on BOINC on my notebook to grind equations for projects like AfricanClimate@Home, Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together, Downs Syndrome Research, FightAIDS@Home, Help Conquer Cancer, Human Proteome Folding 2, Nutritious Rice for the World, etc.

All this to say that once a person gets it into there mind that a "data center" isn’t a place to which you have to drive — but something that can be distributed nearly everywhere — what’s the need to drive to some central point? While companies are now experimenting with the grids within "our network", as broadband (especially fiber to the home|farm|fridge) builds out C-Suites are going to be pressed to justify the real estate costs of maintaining cubevilles, let alone all the "green" problems a distributed digital enterprise can help solve.

FYI, the Compute with BOINC section of http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ reports:

Scientists: use BOINC to create a volunteer computing project, giving you the computing power of thousands of CPUs.

Universities: use BOINC to create a Virtual Campus Supercomputing Center.

Companies: use BOINC for desktop Grid computing.

Bolt: software for web-based education and training

Bossa: software for distributed thinking projects.

# # # #

From the WCG Newsletter: "Since World Community Grid’s launch in November 2004, more than 1 million devices have been registered. The computer power that our volunteer community has donated equals one PC running nonstop for more than 170,000 years.  Volunteers currently are donating
an average of 1,400 years of compute time per week toward humanitarian research!"

# # # #

Tangentially, I providenced|serendipped upon the Journal of E-Working this week.</ed.note>

UPDATE: No National (STEM) Broadband Policy: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

"FTTH: Small Cities Are Not Waiting", by Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor, Underground Construction, June 2008

The telecommunications giants are spending millions of dollars touting bundled service packages, with heavy emphasis on “high-speed” broadband internet connections that includes video programming along with local and long-distance telephone services.

# # # #

<ed.note>The Fiber-to-the-Home Council reports in the FTTH Connection newsletter on: "H. Res. 1292, a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for universal availability of next-generation broadband networks with transmission speeds of 100 megabits per second by 2015."

JULY 4th DOUBLE TAXATION UPDATE: It occurs to me that this effort only truly makes geekonomic sense if they also pass The Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act so that New York State will stop discouraging interstate results-only collaborative work environments with their double taxation of out-of-state telecommuters policy.</ed.note>

# # # #

<ed.note>What folks just don’t seem to get is that the network is the killer app – neither did folks know how they would use electricity until it was built out. Cloud, Grid, Utility computing possibilities are limited by the geo-locked mindset (think anti-ROWE, Sludge) which doesn’t grasp a global market place can be competed in from anywhere on the grid and no where off of it — and misses peer-to-peer possibilities entirely. We need, as a nation, to ask "which problems can’t be better addressed by throwing more CPUs-in-parallel at them?"</ed.note>

See this, that, and the other. More. Morer. Even morer.

Europe Looks to Plastic|Polymer Optical Fiber for Last Mile Solutions

POF-ALL is meant to develop a low-cost solution based on Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) to make the delivery of broadband access to everyone possible. A careful optimization of the enabling technologies (components, devices and protocols) will end up in a real-life field test.

Expected Impact:

Europe would take advantage of a low-cost technology, ideal for telecomm operators to carry true broadband to businesses and households;
Europe would be independent from extra-EU technologies for access networks implementation, as it is today with ADSL technologies;
European companies will have the chance to export the knowledge of the POF-ALL consortium, promoting further investments and improving the competitiveness and technological role of Europe.

See here and here.